Regenerative agriculture – information portal

Regenerative agriculture is about creating topsoil, which is necessary for the production of nutrient-dense food, for holding and filtering water, and for sequestering CO2.  Unfortunately, poor agricultural practices, including the use of conventional tillage and agro-chemicals by industrial agriculture, have contributed to the loss of 1/3 of the Earth’s topsoil. The use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers is especially damaging (Univ. of Illinois study).  Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, uses organic farming practices such as intensive rotational grazing by grass-eating livestock, conservation tillage, applying composted manure, crop rotations, and cover crops, to build fertile topsoil and create truly sustainable agricultural systems for the production of healthy foods. Without regenerative agriculture, some scientists estimate that the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years.

Herds of ruminant (grass-eating) animals have always been important contributors to the creation of topsoil. Buffalo, antelope, even dinosaurs were mobile, self-propelled, fermentation vats that convert plants into soil. How cool is that?! Today, that same work is done by livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep. However, it’s important to mimic the behavior of the herds that originally co-evolved with the grasses they ate – eating and trampling plant material to make new soil, but leaving enough of the plants so that they can recover quickly. This practice – intensive rotational grazing – is key to perpetuating the processes that have sustainably enhanced soil health and sequestered carbon for millions of years.

In short, livestock production converts those plants that are most beneficial to the environment but that humans cannot eat into both healthful, nutrient-dense food AND healthy soils that provide critical ecosystem services. Ethical Eater Vermont promotes regenerative livestock production, but in ways that ensure the welfare of the farm animals, too. Here are some links to information about regenerative agriculture…